Gene Harbrecht

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Actress/singer Demi Lovato hospitalized for possible overdose

City News Service

LOS ANGELES — Singer/actress Demi Lovato was taken to a Los Angeles hospital today for a possible heroin overdose, according to multiple reports.

The Los Angeles Police Department would confirm only that officers responded around 11:40 a.m. to a home in the 8000 block of Laurel View Drive in Hollywood for what was described as a medical emergency.

The department declined to provide further details. There was no immediate word on Lovato’s condition.

TMZ.com and US Weekly report the 25-year-old singer, who has a history of substance-abuse issues, was suffering from a possible heroin overdose.

The former Disney Channel actress’ struggles with addiction, bipolar disorder and other issues were recounted last year in a YouTube documentary titled “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated.” Although she had recently marked six years of sobriety, she released a song last month titled “Sober,” in which she revealed that she had relapsed.

The lyrics of the song include the lines: “To the ones who never left me; we’ve been down this road before; I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/07/24/actress-singer-demi-lovato-hospitalized-for-possible-overdose/

Court blocks measure asking voters to split California in 3

SAN FRANCISCO — A measure that would divide California into three parts won’t appear on the ballot in November, the state Supreme Court decided Wednesday.

The justices ordered the secretary of state not to put the ballot initiative before voters, saying significant questions have been raised about its validity. The court will now consider the merits of a challenge brought by an environmental group.

The Planning and Conservation League argues that dividing the nation’s most populous state into three would drastically change California’s government structure beyond what can be accomplished through a ballot initiative.

Venture capitalist Tim Draper, who has spent more than $1.7 million supporting the initiative, has said it would be inappropriate for the court to block it from going before voters.

Neither side immediately responded to requests for comment on the court’s ruling.

The initiative, which could appear on a future ballot if the court ultimately rules in its favor, seeks to divide the state into Northern California, California and Southern California. Its supporters argue the state has become ungovernable because of its size, wealth disparities and geographic diversity.

Northern California would comprise the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Sacramento and counties north of the state capital. California would be a strip of land along the coast stretching from Los Angeles to Monterey. Southern California would include Fresno and the surrounding farming communities, reaching all the way to San Diego and the Mexican border.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/07/18/court-blocks-measure-asking-voters-to-split-california-in-3/

Trump picks Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

By CATHERINE LUCEY, ZEKE MILLER and MARK SHERMAN

 The Associated Press

WASHINGTON  — After days of frenzied lobbying and speculation, President Donald Trump decided on federal appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh for his second nominee to the Supreme Court, setting up a ferocious confirmation battle with Democrats as he seeks to shift the nation’s highest court further to the right.

Trump chose Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

With customary fanfare, Trump planned to unveil his choice on prime-time TV. His final options were all young federal judges who could help remake the court for decades to come with precedent-shattering rulings on issues such as abortion, guns and health care.

Top contenders had included federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman, as well as Kavanaugh, who is currently a federal appellate judge in the District of Columbia.

Relishing the guessing game beyond the White House gates, Trump had little to say about his choice before the announcement.

Some conservatives have expressed concerns about Kavanaugh — a longtime judge and a former clerk for Kennedy — questioning his commitment to social issues like abortion and noting his time serving under President George W. Bush as evidence he is a more establishment choice. But his supporters have cited his experience and wide range of legal opinions.

Ahead of his announcement, Trump tweeted about the stakes: “I have long heard that the most important decision a U.S. President can make is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice – Will be announced tonight at 9:00 P.M.”

With Democrats determined to vigorously oppose Trump’s choice, the Senate confirmation battle is expected to dominate the months leading up to November’s midterm elections. Senate Republicans hold only a 51-49 majority, leaving them hardly any margin if Democrats hold the line. Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016 will face pressure to back his nominee.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said he was bracing for a tough confirmation battle as Democrats focus on abortion. Kennedy, a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will get the first chance to question the nominee, predicted a “rough, tough, down in the dirt, ear-pulling, nose-biting fight.”

Trump’s success in confirming conservative judges, as well as a Supreme Court justice, has cheered Republicans amid concerns about his limited policy achievements and chaotic management style. Of the court’s liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and Stephen Breyer turns 80 next month, so Trump may well get another opportunity to cement conservative dominance of the court for years to come.

Kavanaugh is likely to be more conservative than Justice Kennedy on a range of social issues. At the top of that list is abortion. A more conservative majority could be more willing to uphold state restrictions on abortion, if not overturn the 45-year-old landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s constitutional right.

Kennedy’s replacement also could be more willing to allow states to carry out executions and could support undoing earlier court holdings in the areas of racial discrimination in housing and the workplace. Kennedy provided a decisive vote in 2015 on an important fair housing case.

While the president has been pondering his choice, his aides have been preparing for what is expected to be a tough confirmation fight. The White House said Monday that former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl would guide Trump’s nominee through the grueling Senate process.

Kyl, a former member of Republican leadership, served on the Senate Judiciary Committee before retiring in 2013. He works for the Washington-based lobbying firm Covington & Burling. The White House hopes Kyl’s close ties to Senate Republicans will help smooth the path for confirmation.

Trump is hoping to replicate his successful nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. The president has spent the days leading up to his announcement discussing the pros and cons of various contenders with aides and allies. In addition to Kavanaugh, in recent days he expressed renewed interest in Hardiman, the runner-up when Trump nominated Gorsuch, said two people with knowledge of his thinking.

The White House invited a number of senators to attend the Monday night announcement, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee member Kennedy.

Democrats who were invited but declined included Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Dianne Feinstein of California. Feinstein is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. The others are Republican targets for the confirmation vote who come from Trump-won states where they face re-election this fall.

Kavanaugh is expected to meet in coming days with senators at their offices, going door-to-door in get-to-know-you sessions ahead of confirmation hearings.

Democrats have turned their attention to pressuring two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to oppose any nominee who threatens Roe v. Wade. The two have supported access to abortion services.

One Democrat up for re-election, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, announced Monday he would oppose any nominee from Trump’s list of 25 possible candidates, drafted by conservative groups. He called it the “fruit of a corrupt process straight from the D.C. swamp.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said opponents were using “40-year-old scare tactics” over abortion and other issues but they “will not stop us from doing the right thing.”

Hardiman had a personal connection to the president, having served with Trump’s sister on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. He went to the University of Notre Dame as the first person in his family to go to college. He helped finance his law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center by driving a taxi.

Barrett — a longtime Notre Dame Law School professor who became a federal appeals judge last fall — excited social conservatives with her testimony when questioned about her Roman Catholic faith in her nomination hearings last year. But her brief time on the bench has raised questions about her experience.

Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/07/09/trump-picks-kavanaugh-for-supreme-court/

Several people dead in shooting at The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland

By BRIAN WITTE

The Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md.— Multiple people were shot Thursday, some of them fatally, at a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, and police said a suspect was in custody.

A reporter at The Capital Gazette tweeted that a single gunman fired into the newsroom and shot multiple employees. Phil Davis, who covers courts and crime for the newspaper, tweeted that the shooter fired through the glass door to the office.

“A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead,” he tweeted. Officials later confirmed that several people died. They did not immediately say how many.

Davis added, “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”

Anne Arundel County Police Department spokesman Marc Limansky said officers were searching the building.

Another police spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said at a news conference, “We did have an active shooter situation inside that building. Again we do have injuries. I can’t give the extent of those injuries at this point.” He said officers must look for other dangers, such as bombs and other shooters.

Arminta Plater, a spokeswoman for a hospital near the newspaper, said two patients had arrived there but she did not know their conditions.

On TV reports, people could be seen leaving the building with their hands up, as police urged them to depart through a parking lot and officers converged.

In an interview with The Capital Gazettte’s online site, Davis said it “was like a war zone” inside the newspaper’s offices — a situation that would be “hard to describe for a while.”

“I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time,” he said. “But as much as I’m going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don’t know until you’re there and you feel helpless.”

Davis told the paper he and others were still hiding under their desks when the shooter stopped firing. “I don’t know why. I don’t know why he stopped,” he said.

A gas station employee near the shooting scene described a flood of police activity in the area as he sat tight inside his still-open workplace.

In a phone interview, Carlos Wallace, who works just down the street from the newspaper’s offices, estimated that “dozens of dozens” of law enforcement vehicles and ambulances had raced toward the scene with sirens blaring.

“The road is blocked off real good. It’s like dozens of dozens of emergency vehicles, police cars of all types, explosive vehicles, battering ram vehicles, all kinds of stuff,” Wallace said at about 3:50 p.m. Thursday.

The newspaper is part of Capital Gazette Communications, which also publishes the Maryland Gazette and CapitalGazette.com. It is part of the Baltimore Sun Media Group.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement saying he was “absolutely devastated” at the tragedy. Officials said President Donald Trump had been briefed on it. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Waters told reporters, “our thoughts and prayers are with all that are affected.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/06/28/shootings-reported-at-newspaper-in-annapolis-maryland/

It’s Trump’s party now as GOP learns not to cross president

By LISA MASCARO

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Don’t cross President Donald Trump.

That’s the lesson being learned by Republicans after Trump critic and GOP Rep. Mark Sanford lost his primary election in South Carolina hours after the president tweeted that he was “very unhelpful.”

It’s a cautionary tale for Republicans in Congress as they try to win elections by showing loyalty to Trump supporters while also maintaining some independence as members of a co-equal branch of government. One wrong turn — or in Sanford’s case, many — and they could endure the wrath of a president who is quick to attack detractors as enemies, even those from his own party. A single presidential tweet can doom a career.

Sanford is the second incumbent House Republican to lose a primary this year — and the latest victim of intense divisions among the GOP in the Trump era.

The president took a victory lap on Twitter early Wednesday, touting his success in ousting a foe and reinforcing, once again, that the Republican Party is Trump’s party now.

“My political representatives didn’t want me to get involved in the Mark Sanford primary thinking that Sanford would easily win – but with a few hours left I felt that Katie was such a good candidate, and Sanford was so bad, I had to give it a shot. Congrats to Katie Arrington!” the president said on Twitter.

House Speaker Paul Ryan downplayed the riff Wednesday and said there’s always going to be winners and losers during primary season.

“This happens,” said the speaker, who is retiring rather than seek re-election. “That’s just what happens in contested primaries.”

Others, though, said it’s an up-close example of how not to publicly criticize the president over differences.

Trump ally Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., offered advice to fellow GOP lawmakers: Say something nice to the president before you bring him your complaints.

“I would start by praising the president — what he’s doing in North Korea, what he’s done on tax reform, what he’s done with the Supreme Court … and then say, ‘But here’s an issue in my local area where I have some disagreement or I’d like to be something different,’” Collins said.

He said talking to Trump should be like interactions with your spouse or children when you have a problem that needs airing. Start with niceties before bringing up the trouble spots, “as opposed to just coming out with smashmouth football.”

House Republicans otherwise were upbeat Wednesday after primary elections in several states as they met behind closed doors to discuss the coming midterms.

“It’s not like people live in fear of the White House,” offered Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a veteran GOP strategist. “You have to handle all your differences with anybody professionally, and hope for the best.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/06/13/its-trumps-party-now-as-gop-learns-not-to-cross-president-2/

Seoul: North Korea’s Kim vows to shut nuke test site in May

By KIM TONG-HYUNG

The  Associated PressSEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to shut down his country’s nuclear test site in May and disclose the process to experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States, Seoul’s presidential office said Sunday.

Kim also told South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their historic summit on Friday that the North would have no need to keep nuclear weapons if Washington commits to formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War and signs a non-aggression pact with Pyongyang, the presidential Blue House said.

While there are lingering questions about whether North Korea will ever decide to fully relinquish its nukes as it heads into negotiations with the United States, Kim’s comments qualify as the North’s most specific acknowledgement yet that denuclearization would constitute surrendering its weapons.

Seoul, which shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to broker talks between Kim and President Donald Trump that are expected in May or June, has said Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons. But there has been skepticism because North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of “denuclearization” that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

The closure of the nuclear test site would be a dramatic but likely symbolic event to set up Kim’s summit with Trump. North Korea already announced this month that it has suspended all tests of nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistic missiles and plans to close its nuclear testing ground.

During their summit at a border truce village, Moon and Kim promised to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, but made no references to verification or timetables.

Kim also expressed optimism about his meeting with Trump, saying the president will learn he’s not one to fire missiles toward the United States, Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan said.

“Once we start talking, the United States will know that I am not a person to launch nuclear weapons at South Korea, the Pacific or the United States,” Kim said, according to Yoon.

“If we maintain frequent meetings and build trust with the United States and receive promises for an end to the war and a non-aggression treaty, then why would we need to live in difficulty by keeping our nuclear weapons?” Yoon quoted Kim as saying.

Adam Mount, a senior defense analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said Kim’s comments were significant because they’re his most explicit acknowledgement yet that denuclearization means surrendering his nuclear weapons.

“Questions remain about whether Kim will agree to discuss other nuclear technology, fissile material and missiles. However, they imply a phased process with reciprocal concessions,” Mount said in an email. “It is not clear that the Trump administration will accept that kind of protracted program.”

Kim reacted to skepticism that the North would be closing down only the northernmost test tunnel at the site in Punggye-ri, which some analysts say became too unstable to conduct further underground detonations following the country’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September. In his conversation with Moon, Kim denied that he would be merely clearing out damaged goods, saying the site also has two new tunnels that are larger than previous testing facilities, Yoon said.

Some analysts see Moon’s agreement with Kim at the summit as a disappointment, citing the lack of references to verification and time frames and also the absence of a definition on what would constitute as a “complete” denuclearization of the peninsula.

But Patrick McEachern, a former State Department analyst currently with the Washington-based Wilson Center, said it was still meaningful that Moon extracted a commitment from Kim to complete denuclearization, which marked a significant change from Kim’s previous public demand to expand his nuclear arsenal quantitatively and qualitatively.

“The public conversation should now shift from speculation on whether North Korea would consider denuclearization to how South Korea and the United States can advance this denuclearization pledge in concrete steps in light of North Korea’s reciprocal demands for concrete steps toward an eventual peace agreement,” McEachern said in an email.

North Korea has invited the outside world to witness the dismantling of its nuclear facilities before. In June 2008, international broadcasters were allowed to air the demolishing of a cooling tower at the Nyongbyon reactor site, a year after the North reached an agreement with the U.S. and four other nations to disable its nuclear facilities in return for an aid package worth about $400 million.

But the deal eventually collapsed after North Korea refused to accept U.S.-proposed verification methods, and the country went on to conduct its second nuclear test detonation in May 2009.

Yoon said Kim also revealed plans to sync its time zone with South Korea’s. The Koreas had used the same time zone for decades before the North created its own “Pyongyang Time” in 2015 by setting the clock 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan.

Yoon said the North’s decision to return to Seoul’s time zone was aimed at facilitating communication with South Korea and the United States.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/29/seoul-north-koreas-kim-vows-to-shut-nuke-test-site-in-may/

Bill Cosby found guilty of drugging, sexually assaulting woman, could get as many as 30 years in prison

By MICHAEL R. SISAK and CLAUDIA LAUER

The  Associated Press

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.

Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.

Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a–hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!”

The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.

Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.

“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps.

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The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?”

The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.

Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.

Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.

It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.

“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”

Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”

Cosby’s retrial took place against the backdrop of #MeToo, the movement against sexual misconduct that has taken down powerful men in rapid succession, among them Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey and Sen. Al Franken.

The jurors all indicated they were aware of #MeToo but said before the trial they could remain impartial. Cosby’s lawyers slammed #MeToo, calling Cosby its victim and likening it to a witch hunt or a lynching.

After failing to win a conviction last year, prosecutors had more courtroom weapons at their disposal for the retrial. The other accusers’ testimony helped move the case beyond a he-said, she-said, allowing prosecutors to argue that Cosby was a menace to women long before he met Constand. Only one other accuser was permitted to testify at Cosby’s first trial.

Cosby’s new defense team, led by Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, launched a highly aggressive attack on Constand and the other women.

Their star witness, a longtime Temple employee, testified that Constand once spoke of setting up a prominent person and suing. Constand sued Cosby after prosecutors initially declined to file charges, settling with him for nearly $3.4 million over a decade ago.

“You’re dealing with a pathological liar,” Mesereau told the jury.

His colleague on the defense team, Katheen Bliss, derided the other accusers as home-wreckers and suggested they made up their stories in a bid for money and fame.

But Cosby himself had long ago confirmed sordid revelations about drugs and extramarital sex.

In a deposition he gave over a decade ago as part of Constand’s lawsuit, Cosby acknowledged he had obtained quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with, “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.’” The sedative was a popular party drug before the U.S. banned it more than 30 years ago.

Cosby also acknowledged giving pills to Constand before their sexual encounter. But he identified them as the over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine Benadryl and insisted they were meant to help her relax.

The entertainer broke racial barriers as the first black actor to star in a network show, “I Spy,” in the 1960s. He created the top-ranked “Cosby Show” two decades later. He also found success with his “Fat Albert” animated TV show and served as pitchman for Jello-O pudding.

Later in his career, he attracted controversy for lecturing about social dysfunction in poor black neighborhoods, railing against young people stealing things and wearing baggy pants.

It was Cosby’s reputation as a public moralist that prompted a federal judge, acting in response to a request from The Associated Press, to unseal portions of the deposition.

Its release helped destroy the “Cosby Show” star’s career and good-guy image. It also prompted authorities to reopen the criminal investigation, and he was charged in late 2015.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission. Constand has done so.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/26/bill-cosby-is-convicted-of-all-counts-in-sexual-assault-case/

New lynching memorial evokes terror of victims  

By KIM CHANDLER

The  Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Visitors to the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice first glimpse them, eerily, in the distance: Brown rectangular slabs, 800 in all, inscribed with the names of more than 4,000 souls who lost their lives in lynchings between 1877 and 1950.

Each pillar is 6 feet tall, the height of a person, and made of steel that weathers to different shades of brown. Viewers enter at eye level with the monuments, allowing a view of victims’ names and the date and place of their slaying.

As visitors descend downward on a slanted wooden plank floor, the slabs seemingly rise above them, suspended in the air in long corridors, evoking the image of rows of hanging brown bodies.

The memorial and an accompanying museum that open this week in Montgomery are a project of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group in Montgomery. The organization says the two sites will be the nation’s first “comprehensive memorial dedicated to racial terror lynchings of African Americans and the legacy of slavery and racial inequality in America.”

There is one column for each of the 800 U.S. counties where researchers uncovered lynchings. Most of the roughly 4,400 killings happened in the South, but states coast-to-coast are represented.

Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, said he wanted to create a space for people to confront and “deal honestly with this history,” just as South Africa has sites about apartheid and Germany memorializes victims of the Holocaust.

“We don’t have many places in America where we have urged people to look at the history of racial inequality, to look at the history of slavery, of lynching, of segregation,” said Stevenson, who is black.

“For me, this was a response to the silence I have seen throughout my life. We’ve got 59 markers and monuments to the Confederacy in Montgomery. We have a lot of people who spend a lot of time talking about mid-19th century history, but they don’t ever talk about slavery.”

The memorial opens the same week that Alabama marks Confederate Memorial Day, an official state holiday in which state offices will close.

The first installation visitors see up close comprises statues of six slaves with chains around their necks, lash marks on their backs. A mother, face twisted in horror, cradles an infant in one arm and stretches out her other hand reaching for something, or someone, outside her grasp.

Beyond the sculptures are monuments to those who lost their lives to “racial terror” lynchings after the Civil War. A section of epitaphs gives the brief story behind some the names:

— “Fred Rochelle, 16, was burned alive in a public spectacle lynching before thousands in Polk County, Florida, in 1901.”

— “David Walker, his wife and their four children were lynched in Hickman, Kentucky, in 1908 after Mr. Walker was accused of using inappropriate language with a white woman.”

Some descendants of victims say they hope to make the trip to Alabama to see the memorial.

Caldwell Washington, 23, was found hanging from a tree in 1933 in what authorities in Taylor, Texas, first called a suicide. But family members and supporters say the finding overlooked a key fact: his hands were tied behind his back.

Washington’s granddaughter, Johnnye Patterson, said the family was gratified to learn that Washington’s name is included on the memorial as a lynching victim. That’s particularly true for Patterson’s mother, Johnnye Mae Washington Patterson, who was Washington’s daughter and has lived with a lifetime of pain.

“They didn’t ever believe he committed suicide. It didn’t make sense that you find someone hanging in a tree with his hands tied behind him,” Johnnye Patterson said.

The museum accompanying the memorial is called Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. It is located on the site of a former slave depot in downtown Montgomery, and seeks to explore slavery’s legacy.

“You are standing on a site where people were warehoused,” announces a statement written on the first wall visitors see as they enter.

Down a dark hallway, images of talking slaves are projected on walls behind cell bars. The first is of a woman who is pleading for the children who were taken away from her.

The museum explores the eras of enslavement, lynching, Jim Crow and modern criminal justice issues that are the focus of the Equal Justice Initiative’s legal work. Several of the organization’s clients are featured, including Ray Hinton, a man whose conviction was overturned after 30 years on Alabama’s death row.

Stevenson, who works with death row inmates, has had judges presume he is a defendant when he sits at the defense table. He doesn’t believe that slavery disappeared but “evolved.” He said what he means by that is the myth of white supremacy that was created to justify slavery didn’t disappear in 1865.

To understand the issues of today, he said, people have to confront and understand the past.

“This is a long-festering, long-simmering malady that is not going to go away on its own. We are going to have to treat it. I believe truth-telling and a way to confront this history is the way that treatment has to begin,” Stevenson said.

AP writer Jay Reeves in Montgomery, Alabama, contributed to this report.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/23/new-lynching-memorial-evokes-terror-of-victims/

Markets tumble again as U.S.-China trade threat looms

By MARLEY JAY
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Stocks ended the week the way they began it: tumbling as investors worry that tariffs and harsh words between the U.S. and China will touch off a trade war that derails the global economy. That came with the U.S. considering duties on an additional $100 billion in goods imported from China.

The stock market has changed direction again and again this week as investors tried to get a sense of whether a trade dispute between the two nations will escalate. Technology companies, banks, industrial and health care stocks are sinking. The market didn’t get any help from a March jobs report that was weaker than expected.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 572 points, or 2.3 percent, to 23,933, rebounding as of 3 p.m. Eastern time.

The S&P 500, which many index funds track, lost 69 points, or 2.6 percent, tat 23,933, rebounding from 704 points down at 3 p.m., EST. The Nasdaq composite slid 161 points, or 2.3 percent, to 6,915.

The administration spent the past few days reassuring investors that it’s not rushing into a trade war, and China’s government has done the same. But late Thursday, President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. Trade Representative to consider placing tariffs on an additional $100 billion worth of Chinese imports. China said it would “counterattack with great strength” if that happens.

Stocks dipped further after Trump criticized the World Trade Organization on Twitter Friday morning and the losses worsened in the afternoon.

The Dow average, which contains numerous multinational companies including industrial powerhouses Boeing and Caterpillar, has swung dramatically this week, with about 1,300 points separating its lowest point Monday afternoon from its high late Thursday. It’s down 1.3 percent for the week.

At the start of the week, the U.S. announced plans to put tariffs on $50 billion in goods imported from China, and the Chinese government responded with measures of equal size. Stocks plunged on Monday, but they rallied over the next few days as officials from both countries said they were open to talks and that the tariffs might never go into effect.

With administration officials sounding conciliatory one day and more hostile the next and the president always quick to fire off another tweet, investors simply don’t know what the U.S. wants to achieve, said Katie Nixon, chief investment officer for Northern Trust Wealth Management.

“The process itself seems to be quite chaotic,” she said. “We’re not quite sure what the long term strategy is.”
Still, she said businesses support the idea of making changes in America’s trade relationship with China. Even though investors are optimistic about the state of the global economy and company profits continue to grow, Nixon said the administration is creating the thing investors hate the most: uncertainty.

Technology companies make a lot of their sales in Asia and they have struggled as Wall Street worries about a slowdown in global economic growth. Optimism about the world economy has helped many tech companies make huge gains in the last year. Industrial companies might face the worst pain from tariffs, as they could find themselves dealing with higher costs for components imported into the U.S. while the duties on their goods in China harm their sales.

Employers added 103,000 jobs in March, which is weaker than the last few months. The Labor Department also said fewer jobs were added in January and February that it initially estimated. The unemployment rate remained low and the job market looks fundamentally healthy, but it’s possible some employers are struggling to find workers.

Benchmark U.S. crude dropped $1.48, or 2.3 percent, to $62.06 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost $1.22, or 1.8 percent, to $67.11 per barrel in London. Oil prices fell almost 5 percent this week as investors wondered if an increase in trade tensions will reduce demand for oil by slowing down the global economy.

Bond prices rose, sending yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.78 percent from 2.83 percent. The lower yields mean banks can’t make as much money from lending, and that send bank stocks lower.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline dipped 3 cents to $1.95 a gallon. Heating oil lost 2 cents to $1.96 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3 cents to $2.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $7.60 to $1,336.10 an ounce. Silver edged up 1 cent to $16.36 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $3.06 a pound.

The dollar fell to 106.86 yen from 107.12 yen. The euro rose to $1.2287 from $1.2256.
Germany’s DAX was down 0.5 percent while France’s CAC-40 fell 0.3 percent lower. The FTSE 100 in Britain lost 0.2 percent.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index dipped 0.4 percent while South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.3 percent but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.1 percent after trading resumed following a holiday as investors caught up with the previous day’s global gains.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/06/markets-tumble-again-as-u-s-china-trade-threat-looms/

Shooting at Florida high school; number of wounded unclear

The Associated Press

PARKLAND, Fla. — A shooting at a Florida high school Wednesday sent students rushing out into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in and locked down the building. Ambulances converged on the scene as emergency workers appeared to be treating possibly wounded people on the sidewalks.

Television footage showed police in olive fatigues, with weapons drawn, entering the school, then dozens of children running and walking quickly out. A police officer waved the students on, urging them to quickly evacuate the school.

Emergency medical personnel pulled stretchers from the backs of ambulances as police cars surrounded the parking lot of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were wounded.

Coral Springs Police said on their Twitter account Wednesday that the school was locked down and that students and teachers inside should remain barricaded until police reach them.

TV footage showed at least one person being wheeled to an ambulance on a gurney while emergency workers appeared to be helping others on the sidewalk. The news broadcasts also showed students running across the street.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/14/shooting-at-florida-high-school-no-of-wounded-unclear/

Bannon is subpoenaed in Mueller’s Russia investigation

MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, was subpoenaed last week by special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into possible links between Trump’s associates and Russia, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The move marked the first time Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Trump’s inner circle. The special counsel’s office has used subpoenas before to seek information on Trump’s associates and their possible ties to Russia or other foreign governments.

The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mueller is likely to allow Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices about ties between Trump’s associates and Russia and about the president’s conduct in office, according to the person, who would not be named discussing the case. But it was not clear why Mueller treated Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of last year and were never served with a subpoena.

The subpoena is a sign that Bannon is not personally the focus of the investigation. Justice Department rules allow prosecutors to subpoena the targets of investigations only in rare circumstances.

On Tuesday, Bannon testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Bannon did not address reporters before entering the proceeding Tuesday, and a spokesman for Mueller and a senior White House lawyer did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Mueller issued the subpoena after Bannon was quoted in a new book criticizing Trump, saying that Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Russians was “treasonous” and predicting that the special counsel investigation would ultimately center on money laundering.

After excerpts from the book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” were published this month, Trump derided Bannon publicly and threatened to sue him for defamation. Bannon was soon ousted as the executive chairman of the hard-right website Breitbart News.

Some legal experts said the subpoena could be a sign that the investigation was intensifying, while others said it may simply have been a negotiating tactic to persuade Bannon to cooperate with the investigation. The experts also said it could be a signal to Bannon, who has tried to publicly patch up his falling-out with the president, that despite Trump’s legal threats, Bannon must be completely forthcoming with investigators.

Prosecutors generally prefer to interview witnesses before a grand jury when they believe they have information that the witnesses do not know or when they think they might catch the witnesses in a lie. It is much easier for a witness to stop the questioning or sidestep questions in an interview than during grand jury testimony, which is transcribed, and witnesses are required to answer every question.

“By forcing someone to testify through a subpoena, you are providing the witness with cover because they can say, ‘I had no choice — I had to go in and testify about everything I knew,’” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a prosecutor for the independent counsel that investigated Bill Clinton when he was president.

Significant grand jury activity may undermine the case that White House officials have made for months: that they believe the inquiry is coming to an end and are convinced that the president will be cleared. Mueller has told Trump’s lawyers that he will probably want to question the president before the investigation concludes, but no interview has been scheduled.

Bannon has limited firsthand knowledge about two key issues within Mueller’s purview — the president’s firing of James Comey as FBI director, a decision made without Bannon present, and the drafting of a misleading statement about the subject of the June 2016 meeting with Russians, in which they promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

But even Bannon’s secondhand knowledge could be used to draw a contrast with statements from people with firsthand knowledge whom Mueller has already interviewed. And Bannon was directly involved in a number of other major moments, including the decision-making around the firing of Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser, who was dismissed after he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about phone calls with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

Bannon also helped run the transition after Chris Christie, the outgoing governor of New Jersey, was fired as head of that team. And Bannon was the chief executive of the Trump campaign in October 2016 when WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of stolen personal emails from the hacked account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

In “Fire and Fury,” Bannon was quoted by the author, Michael Wolff, as suggesting that Donald Trump Jr.; the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner; and Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman at the time, were “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” for attending the meeting with Russians at Trump Tower. Bannon said that he believed there was “zero” chance that the younger Trump did not take them to meet his father, who has said he knew nothing about the meeting.
“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor — with no lawyers,” Bannon said in the book.

Trump erupted in anger after the excerpts were published, calling Bannon “Sloppy Steve” on Twitter and saying he had “cried when he got fired and begged for his job.”

“Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone,” Trump wrote. “Too bad!”
Days after the excerpts were published, a statement was issued in Bannon’s name in which he tried to back away from his assertions in the book. He said that his reference to treason was aimed at Manafort, not the president’s son. Bannon did not apologize, however, and though he had approved the statement, an associate sent it to reporters without his knowledge.

The president appeared to ease his anger toward Bannon at the end of last week. When asked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal whether his break with Bannon was “permanent,” the president replied, “I don’t know what the word ‘permanent’ means.”

People close to Bannon took the president’s comments as a signal that Trump was aware that his fired strategist would soon be contacted by investigators.

Trump has a history of reaching out to people he has fired, including those under investigation, directly or indirectly, as he did with Flynn after he was dismissed and before he struck a plea deal with Mueller’s investigators.

Bannon has hired William A. Burck of the Washington office of the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan law firm to represent him in the defamation threats from Trump and the congressional inquiries. Burck also represents several current and former administration officials who have been interviewed as witnesses by Mueller’s investigators. Among them are the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, and the former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/16/bannon-is-subpoenaed-in-muellers-russia-investigation/

Kennedy wrestles with wedding cake case at Supreme Court

By MARK SHERMAN

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON  — His vote likely to decide the outcome, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy voiced competing concerns Tuesday about respecting the religious beliefs of a Colorado baker who wouldn’t make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, and the gay couple’s dignity.

Kennedy, the author of all the court’s major gay-rights decisions, worried early in a riveting argument at the high court that a ruling in favor of baker Jack Phillips might allow shop owners to put up signs saying “We do not bake cakes for gay weddings.”

But later, Kennedy said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission seemed “neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs” when it found his refusal to bake a cake for the gay couple violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.

Jack Phillips speaks to the media after leaving the Supreme Court which is hearing the 'Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,' Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jack Phillips speaks to the media after leaving the Supreme Court which is hearing the ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,’ Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Phillips and the couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, were all in the courtroom Tuesday to listen to an argument that otherwise seemed to put the conservative justices squarely with Phillips and the liberals on the couple’s side.

The case pits Phillips’ First Amendment claims of artistic freedom against the anti-discrimination arguments of the Colorado commission, and the two men Phillips turned away in 2012.

The argument was the first involving gay rights since the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states could not prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

The Trump administration is supporting Phillips in his argument that he can’t be forced to create a cake that violates his religious beliefs. It appears to be the first time the federal government has asked the justices to carve out an exception from an anti-discrimination law.

Protesters on both sides filled the sidewalk in front of the court, shortly before the start of the argument.

“We got Jack’s back,” Phillips’ supporters said. Backers of Craig and Mullins countered: “Love wins.”

Inside the packed courtroom, the liberal justices peppered Kristen Waggoner, Phillips’ lawyer, and Solicitor General Noel Francisco, with questions about how to draw a line to accommodate Phillips without eviscerating laws that require businesses that are open to the public to serve all customers.

The case’s outcome could affect photographers and florists who have voiced objections similar to those of Phillips.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan ticked off other categories of people who are involved in weddings to ask if they too might be able to refuse a same-sex couple. A graphic artist who designs menus and invitations? A jeweler? A hair stylist? A makeup artist?

Waggoner said the person who makes menus and invitations might be in the same position as Phillips, but not the others because what they do is “not speech.”

Kagan replied: “Some people might say that about cakes, you know?”

More generally, Justice Stephen Breyer in an exchange with Francisco said his concern is the court would have “no way of confining” a decision in favor of Phillips.

Kennedy’s comments in the first half of the 75-minute argument seemed firmly in line with the concerns for human dignity that Kennedy expressed in his opinion in the 2015 gay marriage case and other gay-rights decisions he has written over more than 20 years. Kennedy expressed his doubts when Francisco tried to describe a narrow range of situations in which Phillips and similarly situated business owners might have a right to refuse service.

“The problem for you is so many examples do involve speech. It basically means there is an ability to boycott,” Kennedy said.

When Frederick Yarger, the Colorado solicitor general and the American Civil Liberties Union’s David Cole stood up to defend the commission’s ruling against Phillips, the conservative justices pounced.

Because same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Colorado in 2012, Justice Samuel Alito noted that Craig and Mullins could not have obtained a marriage license where they lived or gotten a local official to marry them. Yet Phillips supposedly “committed a grave wrong” when he refused to make them a cake, Alito said. That struck him as unfair, he said.

Chief Justice John Roberts pressed both Cole and Yarger on whether a Catholic legal services agency that provides help for free would have to take up a case involving a same-sex couple, despite the religious opposition to same-sex marriage. Yes, Cole said, “if they’ve provided the same services to couples who are straight.”

Colorado native Neil Gorsuch, taking part in the most important gay rights case since he joined the Supreme Court in April, asked Cole whether a baker who made a cake shaped like a red cross to celebrate relief efforts also would have to make the same cake for the Ku Klux Klan.

Cole said no, because Colorado’s anti-discrimination law refers to race, sex and sexual orientation, but does not protect KKK members.

Kennedy’s questions in this portion of the argument seemed to reflect his strong First Amendment views in favor of free speech and religion that he has developed in nearly 30 years on the court.

Kennedy described comments made by one of the seven Colorado commissioners in the case as hostile to religion. “Did the commission ever disavow or disapprove” of those remarks, he asked. Not before today, Yarger said, disavowing them.

The exchange raised another possibility: that the court could return the case to the commission for reconsideration because its first decision was tainted by religious bias.

Colorado is among only 21 states with statewide laws barring discrimination against gays and lesbians in public accommodations.

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 16-111, will be decided by late June.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/12/05/kennedy-wrestles-with-wedding-cake-case-at-supreme-court/

Rebels kill Yemen’s strongman Saleh as alliance collapses

By AHMED AL-HAJ and MAGGIE MICHAEL

The Associated Press
SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni rebels killed their erstwhile ally Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s former president and strongman, as their forces battled for control of the capital, Sanaa, officials said. The collapse of their alliance throws Yemen’s nearly 3-year-old civil war into unpredictable new chaos.

The circumstances of Saleh’s death were unclear but Houthi officials said their forces caught up with him as he tried to flee Sanaa.

A video circulating online purported to show Saleh’s body, his eyes open but glassy, motionless with a gaping head wound, as he was being carried in a blanket by rebel fighters chanting “God is great” who then dump him into a pickup truck. Blood stained his shirt under a dark suit.

It was a grisly end for a figure who was able to rule the impoverished and unstable country for more than three decades and remained a powerhouse even after he was ousted in a 2011 Arab Spring uprising. His death recalled another Arab leader killed in the midst of his own country’s uprising, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose body was shown in a video being abused by rebels who killed in him 2011.

Saleh’s death was announced by the rebels, known as Houthis, who have been fighting Saleh’s forces for the past week. Two of Saleh’s associates have confirmed and a third official from the government of Yemen’s internationally recongnized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has also confirmed.

“The leader of treason has been killed,” Houthis’ TV network al-Masriah said.

Saleh allied with the Houthis, and the support of his loyalist military units was key to helping the Houthis overrun the capital, Sanaa, in 2014, driving out Hadi’s government. But in recent months, the alliance frayed amid Houthi suspicions Saleh was leaning toward the Saudi-led coalition backing Hadi.

Hadi’s forces, trying to take advantage of the collapse of the alliance, announced they would march on Sanaa.

But even without Saleh’s loyalists, the rebels remain a powerful force and it is unclear how much the break with Saleh weakens them. Over the past year, the Houthis had steadily undermined Saleh and reduced their need for him, winning military commanders over to their side and boosting their own forces.

A major question now will be whether Saleh’s loyalists — and tribes that support him — can rally to fight the Houthis after his death.

Several Houthi military officials said Saleh was killed as he headed along with top party leaders from Sanaa to his hometown of Sanhan, nearby. Houthi fighters followed him in 20 armored vehicles, attacked and killed him and almost all those with him, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. A Houthi media official, Abdel-Rahman al-Ahnomi told the Associated Press that Houthi fighters killed Saleh as he tried to flee to Saudi Arabia though the province of Marib, to the east of the capital.

The Saudi-led coalition had hoped that Saleh’s break with the Houthis would be a turning point, isolating the rebels. Over the past days, fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition pounded Houthis positions, throwing support behind Saleh and fueling divisions with Houthis. Hadi’s government had expressed willingness to turn “a new page” with whoever stands against the rebels.

The fighting left Sanaa divided. The Houthis dominate the northern part of the city, while Saleh’s forces hold the southern part, with much of the current fighting concentrated around the Political District, home to ministries and foreign embassies. The Houthis appeared to be targeting the homes of Saleh’s family, political allies and commanders.

Civilians living in the area are largely cut off from the outside world.

Yemenis huddled in basements across Sanaa overnight as airstrikes echoed across the city. Suze van Meegen, Sanaa-based protection and advocacy adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said the violence left aid workers trapped inside their homes and was “completely paralyzing humanitarian operations.”

“No one is safe in Sana’a at the moment. I can hear heavy shelling outside now and know it is too imprecise and too pervasive to guarantee that any of us are safe,” she said.

“The night was tough,” Robert Mardini, the regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, posted on his Twitter account. “Massive urban clashes with heavy artillery and airstrikes. Yemenis stuck in their homes, too scared to go out. Reduced access to water, health care, food and fuel.”

In southern Sanaa’s Fag Attan neighborhood, the Houthis used tanks, artillery, and anti-aircraft guns to try to take out snipers loyal to Saleh, damaging or destroying several buildings.

Residents said the night was shattered by the sounds of gunfire and children screaming.

“It’s like horror movies,” said Bushra, a local woman who asked that her last name not be published for fear of retribution. “I have lived through many wars but nothing like this.”

Witnesses said the bodies of slain civilians and fighters littered the streets, as no ambulances were able to reach the area. The ICRC says at least 125 people have been killed and some 240 wounded in Sanaa since the fighting began Wednesday.

Jamie McGoldrick, of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, described the fighting in Sanaa as “another dark chapter of life here.” Speaking from Sanaa, McGoldrick said that humanitarian agencies are close to the front lines and that aid workers are also sheltering in basements. He called for a humanitarian pause to the fighting to allow civilians to escape.

During his more than 30 years in power, Saleh was known as the man who “dances on the heads of snakes” for his mastery of shifting alliances, playing both sides or flipping sides in the multiple conflicts tearing apart Yemen.

In the 2000s, he was a key ally of the U.S. in the fight against al-Qaida, taking millions of dollars in American aid to hunt down the group’s branch — even as he was accused of striking alliances with the militants and using them against his own enemies. During his rule, he fought multiple wars against the Houthis in northern Yemen, only to side with them against his own former vice president-turned-successor, Hadi, after he lost power.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/12/04/rebels-kill-yemens-strongman-saleh-as-alliance-collapses/

War crimes court winds down with defendant’s stunning death

By MIKE CORDER

The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands —

A convicted war criminal from Croatia swallowed what he said was poison and died Wednesday after a United Nations court in the Netherlands upheld his 20-year sentence for committing crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war of the 1990s.

In a stunning end to the final case at the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, former Croatian general Slobodan Praljak yelled, “I am not a war criminal!” in a courtroom and appeared to drink from a small bottle.

Medical staff at the tribunal in The Hague rushed to Praljak’s side before he was taken to a local hospital, where he died, tribunal spokesman Nenad Golcevski told reporters at the court.

The courtroom where the dramatic scene unfolded was sealed off. Presiding Judge Carmel Agius said it was now a “crime scene” and that Dutch police could investigate. Police in The Hague declined to comment on the case.

Dutch police, an ambulance and a firetruck quickly arrived outside the court’s headquarters and emergency service workers, some of them wearing helmets and with oxygen tanks on their backs, went into the court shortly after the incident.

Praljak and five other former Bosnian Croat officials were convicted as part of a criminal plan to carve out a Bosnian Croat mini-state inside Bosnia in the early 1990s. All had their guilty verdicts sustained by the U.N.’s war crimes court Wednesday.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic offered condolences to Praljak’s family. Praljak’s actions reflected the “deep moral injustice” done to the six Bosnian Croats, the prime minister said.

Croatian state TV reported that President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic cut short an official visit to Iceland and the government held an emergency session.

Praljak, 72, had been in the tribunal’s custody before the hearing. Poison has not yet been identified as the cause of his death, and it was not clear how he would have gotten access to a lethal substance or managed to smuggle it into the courtroom.

A lawyer who has frequently defended suspects at the war crimes court told The Associated Press it would be easy to bring poison into the court.

Prominent Serbian lawyer Toma Fila said security for lawyers and other court staff “is just like at an airport.” Security officers inspect metal objects and confiscate cellphones, but “pills and small quantities of liquids” would not be registered, Fila said.

Praljak was a Bosnian Croat writer and film and theater director turned wartime general. His indictment said he also worked as a professor of philosophy and sociology.

He was found guilty of crimes that included murder, persecution and inhumane treatment as part of the plan to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat territory in Bosnia.

Presiding Judge Carmel Agius overturned some of Praljak’s convictions, but upheld others and left his sentence unchanged.

After Praljak heard his 20-year sentence, he swallowed what he told the court was poison. Agius immediately shut down the hearing and cleared the courtroom.

The hearing later resumed and ultimately, all six Croats charged in the case had their sentences, ranging from 25 to 10 years, confirmed.

The other suspects showed no emotion as Agius reconfirmed their sentences for their involvement.

In the past, two Serbs have taken their lives while in the tribunal’s custody.

In July 1998, Slavko Dokmanovic, a Croatian Serb charged with in the deaths of over 200 Croat prisoners of war, was found dead in his prison cell in The Hague. Milan Babic, a wartime Serbian leader who was closely cooperating with prosecutors, took his life in a prison tribunal cell in March 2006.

Wednesday’s hearing was the final case at the groundbreaking tribunal before it closes its doors next month. The tribunal, which last week convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic of genocide and other crimes, was set up in 1993, while fighting still raged in the former Yugoslavia. It indicted 161 suspects and convicted 90 of them.

The appeals judges upheld a key finding that Croatia’s late President Franjo Tudjman was a member of the plot to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia. The finding angered Croatian leaders, but was largely overshadowed by Praljak.

The original trial began in April 2006 and provided a reminder of the complex web of ethnic tensions that fueled fighting in Bosnia and underlies frictions in the country even today.

Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic said that his country’s leadership during the Bosnian war could “in no way be connected with the facts and interpretations” in the appeals judgment.

Dusan Stojanovic and Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia; Sabina Niksic and Amer Cohadzic in Sarajevo, Bosnia; Eldar Emric in Mostar, Bosnia; and Darko Bandic in Zagreb, Croatia.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/29/war-crimes-convict-reportedly-dies-after-poison-claim/

Trump makes hard-sell push for his agenda on Hill

By ANDREW TAYLOR

The Associaed Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump makes a new push Tuesday for his year-end agenda as he heads to the Capitol to rally Senate Republicans on taxes then pivots to negotiations with Democrats in a separate, high-stakes showdown over the budget and immigration.

Trump is still seeking his first marquee win in Congress, but the White House and top GOP leaders have work to do to get their tax bill in shape before a hoped-for vote later this week. Party deficit hawks pressed for a “backstop” mechanism to limit the risk of a spiral in the deficit, even as defenders of small business pressed for more generous treatment for Main Street.

On a separate track from taxes is a multi-layered negotiation over a huge Pentagon budget increase sought by Trump and Republicans and increases for domestic programs demanded by Democrats. Democrats carry leverage into the talks, which have GOP conservatives on edge.

A temporary spending bill expires Dec. 8 and another is needed to prevent a government shutdown. Hurricane aid weighs in the balance and Democrats are pressing for legislative protections for immigrants known as “Dreamers,” even as conservative Republicans object to including the issue in the crush of year-end business.

Tuesday would bring Trump’s third visit to the Capitol in little more than a month — this time to make the sale to Senate Republicans on his signature tax bill. But among the holdouts are GOP Trump critics, including Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee — though GOP leaders are seeking to rope in straggling Republicans with a flurry of deal-cutting.

“There’s still some loose ends. We’re not quite there yet,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “But I think we’re going to get there, I really do.”

Trump’s sessions with big groups of Republicans tend to take the form of pep rallies, and when visiting a Senate GOP lunch last month Trump spent much of the time on a rambling account of the accomplishments of his administration.

Later on Tuesday, the bipartisan top four leaders of Congress — Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, for the House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. — will head to the White House to touch gloves on a range of year-end issues.

Topping the bipartisan agenda is a heavily-sought year-end spending package to give both the Pentagon and domestic agencies relief from a budget freeze.

Trump hasn’t engaged much with Pelosi and Schumer since a September meeting that produced an agreement on a short-term increase in the government’s so-called debt limit and a temporary spending bill that is keeping the government’s doors open through Dec. 8.

Trump reveled in the bipartisan deal for a time and generated excitement among Democrats when he told then he would sign legislation to protect from deportation immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.

Trump in September reversed an executive order by former President Barack Obama that gave protections to these immigrants, many of whom have little or no connection to their home country. Shortly afterward, he told Pelosi and Schumer he would sign legislation protecting those immigrants, provided Democrats made concessions of their own on border security.

Since the president is such a wild card, neither Democrats nor Republicans were speculating much about what Tuesday’s meeting might produce.

“Hopefully, we can make progress on an agreement that covers those time-sensitive issues and keeps the government running and working for the American people,” Schumer said.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/28/trump-makes-hard-sell-push-for-his-agenda-on-hill/

Prince Harry, actress Meghan Markle to wed next year

 

Prince Harry, fifth in line to the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, palace officials announced Monday, confirming months of speculation.

Markle, a humanitarian campaigner and lifestyle blogger who succeeded in show business before falling for Harry, will become a senior member of the royal family as the wife of one of the monarchy’s most popular figures.

Harry, a bad-boy-made-good by his tireless devotion to wounded veterans and his embrace of a variety of charitable causes, has said for several years that he wants to start a family, and the rumors of his engagement to Markle have been flying for some time.

  • In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle attend the wheelchair tennis competition during the Invictus Games in Toronto. Palace officials announced Monday Nov. 27, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged, and will marry in the spring. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

    In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle attend the wheelchair tennis competition during the Invictus Games in Toronto. Palace officials announced Monday Nov. 27, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged, and will marry in the spring. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

  • Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. It was announced Monday that Prince Harry, fifth in line for the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, confirming months of rumors. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

    Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. It was announced Monday that Prince Harry, fifth in line for the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, confirming months of rumors. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

  • Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle pose for photographers during a photocall in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. Britain’s royal palace says Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle are engaged and will marry in the spring of 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

    Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle pose for photographers during a photocall in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. Britain’s royal palace says Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle are engaged and will marry in the spring of 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Meghan Markle wears her engagement ring as she poses with Britain’s Prince Harry for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. It was announced Monday that Prince Harry, fifth in line for the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, confirming months of rumors. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

    Meghan Markle wears her engagement ring as she poses with Britain’s Prince Harry for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. It was announced Monday that Prince Harry, fifth in line for the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, confirming months of rumors. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

  • Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. It was announced Monday that Prince Harry, fifth in line for the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, confirming months of rumors. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

    Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. It was announced Monday that Prince Harry, fifth in line for the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, confirming months of rumors. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

  • Britain’s Prince Charles smiles as he visits the Loop Technology Centre in Poundbury, Dorchester, England, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. Palace officials announced Monday that Prince Harry is engaged to Meghan Markle, confirming months of rumors that the couple was close to tying the knot. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

    Britain’s Prince Charles smiles as he visits the Loop Technology Centre in Poundbury, Dorchester, England, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. Palace officials announced Monday that Prince Harry is engaged to Meghan Markle, confirming months of rumors that the couple was close to tying the knot. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

  • Town Crier Tony Appleton holds a scroll outside Green Park in central London near Buckingham Palace after it was announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to be engaged. Monday Nov. 27, 2017. Britain’s royal palace says Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle are engaged and will marry in the spring of 2018. The announcement came Monday from the office of Harry’s father, Prince Charles. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

    Town Crier Tony Appleton holds a scroll outside Green Park in central London near Buckingham Palace after it was announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to be engaged. Monday Nov. 27, 2017. Britain’s royal palace says Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle are engaged and will marry in the spring of 2018. The announcement came Monday from the office of Harry’s father, Prince Charles. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

  • TV crews set up outside Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. Palace officials announced Monday that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged, and will marry in the spring. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

    TV crews set up outside Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. Palace officials announced Monday that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged, and will marry in the spring. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. It was announced Monday that Prince Harry, fifth in line for the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, confirming months of rumors. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

    Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, Monday Nov. 27, 2017. It was announced Monday that Prince Harry, fifth in line for the British throne, will marry American actress Meghan Markle in the spring, confirming months of rumors. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

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The marriage represents a first-ever blending of Hollywood glamour with the once-stuffy royal family, which has of late seemed less fixed in its ways, and brings a mixed-race American divorcee into a highly visible role.

Harry’s brother, Prince William, and his pregnant wife Kate welcomed Markle to the royal family.

“We are very excited for Harry and Meghan,” they said in a statement. “It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together.”

Harry’s father, Prince Charles, told reporters he was “thrilled” with the engagement.

“They’ll be very happy indeed,” he said.

The engagement announcement says the couple became engaged in London earlier this month and that Harry has informed his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. It says he sought and received the permission of Markle’s parents.

The couple plan to live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace. Markle is also reported to have started the sometimes time-consuming process of moving her dogs from Canada to Britain. She recently left her television show, a development that helped fueled engagement speculation.

Congratulations also came in from the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, and from Prime Minister Theresa May. Markle’s parents also welcomed the news.

Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland said their daughter Meghan “has always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents.”

Markle was raised in the Los Angeles area. Her father is a Hollywood lighting director, her mother a yoga instructor and psychotherapist.

In some ways, Markle — a mixed-race American raised in California, an outspoken full-time actress, and a divorcee — makes a surprising addition to Britain’s monarchy.

But the institution has moved on with the times, and the romance between Markle and Harry — who has repeatedly stressed his wish to lead as “normal” a life as he could — has a decidedly unstuffy, modern feel to it.

The announcement means another grand royal wedding may be in the offing — the first since William and Kate married in 2011 — though it is possible the couple may choose to have a private ceremony, perhaps in a remote location far from the paparazzi who bedeviled Harry’s mother, Princess Diana.

Markle, best known for her role as an ambitious paralegal in the hit U.S. legal drama “Suits,” surprised many when she shared her feelings for Harry in a September cover story for Vanity Fair.

Asked about the media frenzy surrounding their courtship, the 36-year-old said: “At the end of the day I think it’s really simple … we’re two people who are really happy and in love.”

Harry, once known for his dicey antics, including being photographed playing strip billiards in Las Vegas, has largely charmed the British public with his winning smile, his military career and his devotion to charities aimed at helping disabled veterans and other causes.

The 33-year-old prince recently won praise with his work campaigning for more openness about mental health issues. Speaking candidly about his personal struggle to cope with the loss of his mother when he was only 12, he encouraged others to talk about their own problems rather than keeping them bottled up inside.

Markle’s Vanity Fair interview broke new ground. It is unusual for a royal love interest to speak so publicly, and candidly, before becoming engaged.

Harry’s past reported girlfriends all shied away from the media limelight, and his sister-in-law, formerly known as Kate Middleton, stayed silent until she and Prince William gave a formal televised interview at Buckingham Palace after their engagement became public.

It won’t be the first time that a British royal has married an American, or a divorcee. In 1936, Edward VIII famously abdicated after he was forced to choose between the monarchy and his relationship with twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

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Jill Lawless contributed to this report.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/27/522832/

Nebraska panel approves alternative Keystone XL oil pipeline route  

By GRANT SCHULTE

The Associated Press
LINCOLN, Neb. — A Nebraska commission approved an alternative route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline through the state on Monday, removing the last major regulatory obstacle to building the long-delayed $8 billion project.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission’s vote on the long-delayed project could still be challenged in court. Opponents also said another federal review may be needed because the approved route would run farther north than the preferred route proposed by TransCanada Corp., which wants to build a 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) pipeline from Canada across several U.S. states.

“This decision opens up a whole new bag of issues that we can raise,” said Ken Winston, an attorney representing environmental groups that have long opposed the project.

Still, the commission’s 3-2 vote likely clears the way for the company to gain access to the property of holdout landowners in Nebraska who vehemently oppose the pipeline, using the state’s eminent domain laws. More than 90 percent of Nebraska landowners along the route have agreed to let TransCanada bury the pipeline beneath their property, but those who oppose it have managed to thwart the project for years.

The pipeline also faces intense opposition from Native American tribes, but business groups and some unions support the project as a way to create jobs and reduce the risk of shipping the oil by trains that can derail.

President Donald Trump issued a federal permit allowing for the project in March, reversing President Barack Obama administration’s rejection of it. TransCanada had said that it would announce in late November or early December whether it planned to proceed with building the pipeline, taking into account the Nebraska decision and whether it has lined up enough long-term contracts to ship oil.

Jane Kleeb, director of the pipeline opposition group the Bold Alliance, said her group believes TransCanada will have to seek another federal review of the route, a process that would add even more years to the timetable. The mainline alternative approved Monday includes 63 miles of new pipeline that hasn’t been reviewed by the federal government.

Opponents are expected to appeal the Nebraska commission’s decision in a state district court, and the case is likely to end up before the Nebraska Supreme Court. The commission was forbidden by law from considering a recent oil spill in South Dakota on the existing Keystone pipeline in its decision.

The proposed Keystone XL would expand the existing Keystone pipeline, which went into service in July 2010. The current pipeline network runs south through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and extends east into Missouri and Illinois.

The new pipeline would carry an estimated 830,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil sands areas of Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect with the existing Keystone pipeline. The pipeline would then continue through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas to the coast.

TransCanada has said its route through Nebraska is the most direct way to transport oil from Alberta, Canada, to an existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska.

The commission decision based on evidence presented at a public hearing in August. The elected commission is composed of four Republicans and one Democrat.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/20/nebraska-panel-approves-alternative-keystone-xl-route/

Trump focuses on trade and terrorism, not human rights abuse with Philippine President Duterte

MANILA, Philippines  — His lengthy Asia trip down to its final days, President Donald Trump opted Monday, Nov. 13, to keep his public focus on top priorities such as trade and combating terrorism rather than human rights, declining to shine a spotlight on the violent drug war overseen by his Philippine host.

Trump repeatedly praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, calling him by his first name, sharing a joke about the media and even complimenting Manila’s weather. What he did not do was what many predecessors have done before: highlight human rights abuses while overseas.

Duterte has overseen a bloody drug war that has featured extrajudicial killings. He has even boasted about killing people with his own hands. But during brief remarks to reporters, Trump said he and Duterte have “had a great relationship” and avoided questions on whether he’d raise human rights issues with the Filipino leaders.

The White House later said the two leaders discussed the Islamic State group, illegal drugs and trade during the 40-minute meeting. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said human rights came up “briefly” in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs. She did not say if Trump was critical of Duterte’s program.

That appeared to conflict with the Filipino version of the meeting. Harry Roque, a spokesman for Duterte, said, “There was no mention of human rights. There was no mention of extralegal killings. There was only a rather lengthy discussion of the Philippine war on drugs with President Duterte doing most of the explaining.”

Despite all that, the two sides later issued a joint statement saying that “the two sides underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs.”

On the sidelines of an international summit, Trump looked to strengthen ties with Pacific Rim allies, aiming to strike bilateral rather than multinational trade agreements, and increase pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. He met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and highlighted their two nations’ “deeper and more comprehensive” ties, looking to strengthen a relationship that is vital to the U.S. vision of an Indo-Pacific region that attempts to de-emphasize China’s influence.

He jointly met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with whom he had a contentious phone call last winter, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who hosted the president in Tokyo earlier in the trip. Trump raved about his accomplishments on his five-nation journey, particularly on trade and on North Korea, which the White House has suggested may be designated a state sponsor of terror.

Trump said he would wait until his return to Washington on Wednesday to elaborate with a “major statement” on those two topics but hinted at progress while in Manila.

“We’ve made some very big steps with regard to trade — far bigger than anything you know,” Trump told reporters, pointing to business deals forged between U.S. and foreign companies.

“We’ve made a lot of big progress on trade. We have deficits with almost everybody. Those deficits are going to be cut very quickly and very substantially,” Trump said.

“Except us,” Turnbull chimed in, to laughs.

“You’re the only one,” Trump responded. Trump also said the trip had been “very fruitful” for the United States and pointed to the warm welcomes he had received in capitals like Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.

“It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received,” Trump said. “And that really is a sign of respect, perhaps for me a little, but really for our country. And I’m really proud of that.”

Trump met privately with Turnbull later Monday. But his interactions with Duterte drew the most scrutiny.

Advisers had said that while Trump was always unlikely to publicly chastise Duterte, he might offer criticisms behind closed doors. Trump would hold his tongue in public to avoid embarrassing Duterte, whom he is urging to help pressure North Korea and fight terrorism, and to avoid pushing him into the arms of China. Duterte has seemed less committed to the strategic partnership with the U.S.

Duterte’s war on drugs has alarmed human rights advocates around the world who say it has allowed police officers and vigilantes to ignore due process and to take justice into their own hands. Government officials estimate that well over 3,000 people, mostly drug users and dealers, have died in the ongoing crackdown. Human rights groups believe the victim total is far higher, perhaps closer to 9,000.

The opening ceremonies of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations conference began with pageantry, including a group photo of the leaders and the summit’s traditional handshake. That cross-body handshake, during which each leader shakes the opposite hands of those next to him or her, briefly baffled Trump, who then laughed as he figured out where to place his arms.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/13/trump-focuses-on-trade-terrorisma-not-human-rights-abuses-with-philippine-president-dutertet/

Top GOP leader on allegations on Senate candidate Moore: ‘I believe the women’

By ALAN FRAM and BRUCE SCHREINER

WASHINGTON — The top Republican in the Senate said Monday GOP candidate Roy Moore should quit his Alabama race amid allegations he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued romantic relationships with other teenage girls decades ago. “I believe the women,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky Republican said flatly that Moore should step aside for another GOP candidate days after the Washington Post report that rocked the campaign for what the GOP had considered an inevitable special election win on Dec. 12. When the story first broke last Thursday, McConnell had said Moore should step aside if the allegations were true.

McConnell, questioned at a tax event in Louisville, said a write-in effort by another candidate was a possibility.

“That’s an option we’re looking at … whether or not there is someone who can mount a write-in campaign successfully,” McConnell said. Asked specifically about current Sen. Luther Strange, the loser to Moore in a party primary, he said, “We’ll see.”

On the Democratic side, one of the Senate’s moderate members is helping Moore’s challenger raise campaign funds, underscoring the party’s wary approach in an Alabama race that until recently was viewed as a virtually certain win for the GOP.

In fact, the fundraising bid by Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., doesn’t mention allegations about Moore.

“Doug’s opponent, Roy Moore, is an extremist with a record of putting political ideology above the rule of law,” Donnelly wrote in a weekend email soliciting contributions for Democrat Doug Jones. Moore and Jones face a Dec. 12 special election to replace Strange, who was appointed to replace Jeff Sessions when Sessions was named U.S. attorney general.

Donnelly’s email also cites Jones’ background as “the son of a steelworker” and a prosecutor who “worked to lock away members of the KKK and terrorists for despicable acts of violence.”

Donnelly faces re-election next year in Indiana and is considered one of his party’s most endangered incumbents.

In a further indication of Democrats’ caution, the party’s No. 2 Senate leader, Richard Durbin, dodged a question Sunday about what the Senate should do if Moore is elected. He tried to shift the focus back to Republicans.

“President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party in America. It’s his responsibility to step forward and say more and do more when it comes to the situation in Alabama,” Durbin, D-Ill., said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Moore said a lawsuit will be filed over the Post report that detailed the allegations against him.

While pressure to quit the race four weeks before Election Day intensified from within the Republican Party, Moore assured supporters Sunday night at a Huntsville, Alabama, gym that the article was “fake news” and “a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign.”

Moore said allegations that he was involved with a minor child are “untrue” and said the newspaper “will be sued,” drawing a round of applause. The former judge also questioned why such allegations would be leveled for the first time so close to the special election in spite of his decades in public life.

“Why would they come now? Because there are groups that don’t want me in the United States Senate,” he said, naming the Democratic Party and the Republican establishment and accusing them of working together. He added, “We do not plan to let anybody deter us from this race.”

The Post story quoted four women by name, including the woman who alleged the sexual contact at 14, and had two dozen other sources.

Moore, too, has tried to raise money from the controversy, writing in a fundraising pitch that the “vicious and sleazy attacks against me are growing more vicious by the minute.”

Even if Moore were to step aside, his name would likely remain on the ballot. And any effort to add Strange as a write-in candidate would threaten to divide the GOP vote in a way that would give the Democratic candidate a greater chance of winning.

Moore is an outspoken Christian conservative and former state Supreme Court judge.

While he has called the allegations “completely false and misleading,” in an interview with conservative radio host Sean Hannity he did not wholly rule out dating teenage girls when he was in his early 30s. Asked if that would have been usual for him, Moore said, “Not generally, no.”

The situation has stirred concern among anxious GOP officials in Washington in a key race to fill the Senate seat once held by Sessions. Losing the special election to a Democrat would imperil Republicans’ already slim 52-48 majority. But a Moore victory also would pose risks if he were to join the Senate GOP under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.

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Schreiner reported from Louisville, Kentucky.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/13/top-gop-leader-on-allegations-on-moore-i-believe-the-women/

Top GOP leader on allegations on Senate candidate Moore: ‘I believe the women’

By ALAN FRAM and BRUCE SCHREINER

WASHINGTON — The top Republican in the Senate said Monday GOP candidate Roy Moore should quit his Alabama race amid allegations he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued romantic relationships with other teenage girls decades ago. “I believe the women,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky Republican said flatly that Moore should step aside for another GOP candidate days after the Washington Post report that rocked the campaign for what the GOP had considered an inevitable special election win on Dec. 12. When the story first broke last Thursday, McConnell had said Moore should step aside if the allegations were true.

McConnell, questioned at a tax event in Louisville, said a write-in effort by another candidate was a possibility.

“That’s an option we’re looking at … whether or not there is someone who can mount a write-in campaign successfully,” McConnell said. Asked specifically about current Sen. Luther Strange, the loser to Moore in a party primary, he said, “We’ll see.”

On the Democratic side, one of the Senate’s moderate members is helping Moore’s challenger raise campaign funds, underscoring the party’s wary approach in an Alabama race that until recently was viewed as a virtually certain win for the GOP.

In fact, the fundraising bid by Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., doesn’t mention allegations about Moore.

“Doug’s opponent, Roy Moore, is an extremist with a record of putting political ideology above the rule of law,” Donnelly wrote in a weekend email soliciting contributions for Democrat Doug Jones. Moore and Jones face a Dec. 12 special election to replace Strange, who was appointed to replace Jeff Sessions when Sessions was named U.S. attorney general.

Donnelly’s email also cites Jones’ background as “the son of a steelworker” and a prosecutor who “worked to lock away members of the KKK and terrorists for despicable acts of violence.”

Donnelly faces re-election next year in Indiana and is considered one of his party’s most endangered incumbents.

In a further indication of Democrats’ caution, the party’s No. 2 Senate leader, Richard Durbin, dodged a question Sunday about what the Senate should do if Moore is elected. He tried to shift the focus back to Republicans.

“President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party in America. It’s his responsibility to step forward and say more and do more when it comes to the situation in Alabama,” Durbin, D-Ill., said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Moore said a lawsuit will be filed over the Post report that detailed the allegations against him.

While pressure to quit the race four weeks before Election Day intensified from within the Republican Party, Moore assured supporters Sunday night at a Huntsville, Alabama, gym that the article was “fake news” and “a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign.”

Moore said allegations that he was involved with a minor child are “untrue” and said the newspaper “will be sued,” drawing a round of applause. The former judge also questioned why such allegations would be leveled for the first time so close to the special election in spite of his decades in public life.

“Why would they come now? Because there are groups that don’t want me in the United States Senate,” he said, naming the Democratic Party and the Republican establishment and accusing them of working together. He added, “We do not plan to let anybody deter us from this race.”

The Post story quoted four women by name, including the woman who alleged the sexual contact at 14, and had two dozen other sources.

Moore, too, has tried to raise money from the controversy, writing in a fundraising pitch that the “vicious and sleazy attacks against me are growing more vicious by the minute.”

Even if Moore were to step aside, his name would likely remain on the ballot. And any effort to add Strange as a write-in candidate would threaten to divide the GOP vote in a way that would give the Democratic candidate a greater chance of winning.

Moore is an outspoken Christian conservative and former state Supreme Court judge.

While he has called the allegations “completely false and misleading,” in an interview with conservative radio host Sean Hannity he did not wholly rule out dating teenage girls when he was in his early 30s. Asked if that would have been usual for him, Moore said, “Not generally, no.”

The situation has stirred concern among anxious GOP officials in Washington in a key race to fill the Senate seat once held by Sessions. Losing the special election to a Democrat would imperil Republicans’ already slim 52-48 majority. But a Moore victory also would pose risks if he were to join the Senate GOP under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.

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Schreiner reported from Louisville, Kentucky.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/13/top-gop-leader-on-allegations-on-moore-i-believe-the-women/